Friday 9 December 2016

Leo Varadkar is one of us, yet with an outsider's keen eye

Leo Varadkar stepped in where his colleagues in Government wouldn't, and called it like it was

Published 30/03/2014 | 02:30

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: Leo Varadkar took a stand and spoke plainly and simply. Photo: Tony Gavin
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: Leo Varadkar took a stand and spoke plainly and simply. Photo: Tony Gavin

It is perhaps not surprising that it took the son of an immigrant to change everything 10 days ago. In a sense, we are all insiders when it comes to the culture of the cops. We all grew up, to some extent, in a country where no one really raised an eyebrow when you got a "decent" cop, a "sound" guy, who let you off something. We all grew up in a culture where rules were made to be broken.

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Among the force, you can imagine how the whistleblowers might have been seen by some as prissy. Traffic cop stuff is child's play next to real crime and fighting terrorists, isn't it? And there was a touch of that in all of us. No one really got that exercised even when it became clear that the internal Garda report on the penalty points was inadequate. Even when the Inspectorate report came out, vindicating the whistleblowers, and it emerged that the powers that be within the force had essentially buried the penalty points thing, there was no great clamour for the Commissioner to go or anything.

And then the son of an immigrant changed everything by making an intervention that demonstrated the kind of decency we like to pride ourselves on in this country. Last Thursday week, Leo Varadkar stepped in where his colleagues in Government wouldn't, and called it like it was. And not only did he say the whistleblowers – who have endured horrific smearing both publicly and in private, smearing campaigns that would shock you – were not bad people, he said they were good people. He thanked them and directly linked them to saving lives on the road, thus directly linking the culture of penalty points quashing to causing deaths on the roads.

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